Dresden is one of the most beautiful cities in Germany, but once you get there – you will immediately want to leave!
Perhaps you will hop onto one of the steam-powered paddle-wheelers and cruise along the Elbe River to the magnificent Kurort Rathen, in the famous Saxon Switzerland. Excellent hiking awaits you, or just find an outdoor café and relax. My wife and I enjoy garden railroading, so we visited the Eisenbahnwelten (Train Worlds) garden railroad. It was fantastic!
Other popular destinations served by Dresden’s large fleet of paddle-steamers include the beautiful and relaxing Schloss Pillnitz, or world-famous Meissen, where you can tour the “Dresden China” factory and then explore the town and striking castle.
Once back in Dresden, you’ll leave town again for Radebeul Ost, where you can board a steam train of the Lößnitzgrundbahn, which will take you to Schloss Moritzburg.
Actually, there are quite a few excellent narrow-gauge railroads in Saxony, all using steam locomotives. Any of them would make a great day-trip from Dresden, but you will have to drive or take a “regular” train to reach them. My favorite was the Zittauer Schmalspurbahn, near the borders with Poland and the Czech Republic. This 750mm gauge railway carries families and tourists from Zittau to Bertsdorf, then on to either Jonsdorf or Oybin. Chris and I went to Oybin and were captivated by the simple charm of this quiet village and the mountaintop castle-and-monastery ruins.
What? You’ve run out of time? But, you haven’t even seen Dresden yet! That’s the way we felt after our first visit in 2011, so we went back for a longer stay in 2013.
Dresden is the capital of Saxony, and has regained its status as one of the most popular tourist destinations in Germany, although it is by no means crowded. It is a city with many beautiful buildings and bridges, and a history rich with culture. The people of Dresden take great pride in their city; much of it was reconstructed by private donations!
The recently rebuilt Frauenkirche is symbolic of Dresden’s rebirth, but landmarks such as the Zwinger Palace, Semper Opera, and Royal Palace are also among the most admirable attractions. Just so you know, it is mandatory that you stroll along the Brühl Terrace every evening!
You will certainly enjoy the Dresden Transport Museum. We also visited the Strassenbahnmuseum (Streetcar Museum) and were pleasantly surprised by the size of the collection and the quality of the restoration work.
On a sunny day, consider the Dresden Funicular Railway, and the Dresden Suspension Railway. You will eventually end up with a magnificent view of the Elbe, and Dresden (in the distance). It rained like crazy when we tried it, so make sure you check the weather forecast while you are still considering this option. This adventure also involved what seemed like a lot of jumping on-and-off streetcars and a few long walks, so discuss the logistics of this outing with your hotel concierge before starting!
Our two trips to Dresden totaled about nine days, which simply was not enough. Dresden and Saxony are so inviting that we hope to go back a third time, soon. Discovering Dresden is a continuing process. It’s like I always say: “Dresden is one of the most beautiful cities in Germany, but once you get there – you will never want to leave!”